Now THAT is great writing!

There comes a time when you read something, and know that you have just read a superbly crafted paragraph.

Superb.

Say it again, I dare you.

Su-perb.

I have just read that paragraph, and I hereby share it with you.

From the master of the true essence of Star Wars Role Playing that is Darths & Droids, I bring you;

Always know where the escape pods or life boats or similar such devices are located. This includes biplanes attached to zeppelins. Whenever you board a commercial vessel, scout it out and plan your escape route in case of iceberg, fire, or sahuagin attack. Memorise all paths to the means of escape, so you can follow them in pitch blackness. Even when carrying a cat cage and flamethrower and being chased by an alien carnivore.

Words to live your role playing life by, my friends, with an example that is pure genius. Such a perfect association unleashed with stark brevity!

Truly, words to live by.

Or, in the case of retcons, words to think you lived by while actually condemned with the ultimate horror all unknowing.

That’s right.

The true moral of the story?

We as gamers know what it is.

The player can go through all those procedures, memorize the layouts, practice the routes blindfolded, perform preventive maintenance on the life rafts and even stock the ships with food (and a means of opening the cans, har har), but no matter how hard you try, if the GM is in a bad mood, your character just got impregnated in her sleep by an evil alien between game sessions, and there is not a single damned thing you can do about it.

All you can do is suck it up and reroll with the punches, reroll with the punches.

 

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You want to WHAT with WHO?

Last night, at the tail end of one long day, a few members of Team Wanda, Band Of Misfits most progressive raiding team, were chatting in vent.

They had just completed the server first Glory of the Cataclysm Raider earlier, so I thought I’d pop in and say hi and grats in person.

I found them in discussion on whether or not it was possible to four-man the Conclave of Wind.

They apparently do mount runs. A lot.

I was about to head out and go to bed when Shadowson asked me, “You think you’d join us as a tank to five man it?”

Ummm… you know what? It’s been a very long day.

“Sure.”

Let the record show that on this evening, four stalwart, skilled adventurers, brave and true, and one misfit bear boldly entered into the Throne of the Four Winds.

  • Shadowson the Shadow Priest
  • Kissinger the Mage
  • Pumpken the Resto Shaman
  • Randomski the Prot Paladin
  • Bigbearbutt the bacon butted

Yes, it is in fact possible to down the Conclave of Wind with five players. We did it on our second attempt.

We won’t speak of my incredible fail on the first attempt, ‘mkay?

Shadowson healed as Shadow DPS while I tanked on Anshal, Randomski tanked Nezir with Pumpken healing, and Kissinger… well, Kissinger blew up Rohash.

There was much hopping back and forth by Pumpken, Shadowson and Kissinger all trying to do the work of a full raid.

In the end, I felt the thrill of victory over a challenge I didn’t even expect to have put in front of me, a challenge we didn’t even know would be possible or not.

I think that is why it tasted all the sweeter.

Al”Akir, what to say about Al’Akir…

I went as Kitty, and I found out that it is possible to be thrown off the ledge by a tornado, get back up and be dropped in the NEXT tornado, and then again for a third time.

At least my kitty looks cute floating in midair.

Good thing, because I sure as hell spent a lot of time doing it.

Oh, and Al’Akir?

Easier than Conclave of Wind, and just as dead.

What a surprisingly good way to end an otherwise crappy day.

If you happen to be one of the folks that is feeling bored with Looking For Raid, and wondering what in the world there is left to do in the game…

May I humbly suggest you get three of your closest friends and see how much fun clearing older raids might be?

Sure, ICC and Ulduar spring to mind as tasty little targets, but why not see what other kinds of crazyness you can get up to?

The World of Warcraft is your oyster, after all. This is as overpowered as you’re ever going to feel before Mists of Pandaria sweeps away all before it.

Let your mind run riot, man.  What do you have to lose?

My thanks to Shadowson and Team Wanda, for the unlooked-for opportunity to have a little fun.

I Got the Transmogging Blues

I’d like you to say hello to my Rogue.

I am obviously biased, but I happen to think my Rogue looks incredibly badass wearing full Darkmantle gear, especially considering how suddenly rare that look is thanks to Blizzards rather draconian class quest slaughter, and insanely high priced replica Darkmoon gear.

But the awesome look is part of the problem.

When you look that good, a crappy looking weapon stands out like a zombie in the nursery.

The dagger isn’t an issue, I’m not sure I’ve even seen a bad dagger design.

The fist weapon though… blech.

I searched around, found a really nice fist weapon design I thought would look great with the Darkmantle set, the Nexus-Claw.

Nexus-Claw, part of a set of claws released in Burning Crusade that mirrored an awesome but hard-to-get set from Zul’Gurub, is eminently easy to obtain. You simply fly out to Netherstorm in Outlands, visit the exotic weapons dealer at the Consortium area of the Stormspire, and buy them. You don’t even need rep. He only has one of each of the claws at a time (the other one is the Void-Talon), but wait for a day or two, they should return. It’s not like Netherstorm is a hub of activity anymore.

I went out and bought them, and thought myself something of a smarty-pants for getting great looking items without effort. You know, because Darkmantle was so freaking easy to get.

When I went to transmog my main hand weapon, though, the Perforator, I encountered a teeny, weenie little problem.

They are indeed both Fist Weapons.

The problem lies in the fact that the Perforator is a one-hand weapon, and thus can be used in either hand. The Nexus-Claw and Void-Talons are hand specific, main hand and off hand respectively. Or the other way around, whatever.

What I have found is that I can’t transmog my one hand Fist Weapon with the hand specific Fist Weapons.

Son of a bitch.

Do you know how many great looking Fist Weapons there are in the game? And of those, do you know how many old school ones are hand specific?

Just… crap.

In retrospect I understand what the deal is. The one hand Fist Weapons display bilateral symmetry. Most of the hand-specific Fist Weapons do not. Pop the appearance of an Off Hand claw on a Main Hand weapon, and you’ll likely be holding the blade or something, while the handle is waving in the breeze.

I guess if I had given it any thought, I’d have thought that the appearance would mirror over if on an opposite hand.

Clearly, I was wrong. Damnit.

Fine. Be that way.

I’ll just have to go to Badlands and do The Day That Deathwing Came quest to get Theldurin’s Fist.

So there, nyah.

Straight through ’til morning

I was reading the latest Penny Arcade story accompaniments when something Gabe said really struck a chord with me on game design, and why I like some games over others.

Gabe was talking about an upcoming game he is playing called Kingdoms of Amalur, and said;

A big part of the reason I play games is for “new art”. That is the thing more often than not that keeps me progressing. What will the next level or zone look like?

As soon as he said it, I knew it was true for me.

Before I go on about what that sparked in my brain housing group though, I want to say, I never heard of Kingdoms of Amalur before. I HAVE heard of a game that Gabe compared it to… Skyrim. Gabe seemed to think Kingdoms of Amalur had all the lore and exploring depth of Skyrim, but with much more entertaining combat gameplay, and with more beautiful worlds to experience.

Huh.

All I heard talk about a few months ago, at least before SWTOR came out, was “Oh, Skyrim, Skyrim is so awesome, all I want to do is play Skyrim, oh I just want to have Skyrim’s giant-destroying shouty babies.”

To hear Gabe, who I respect, say that he thought Kingdoms of Amalur was more enjoyable than Skyrim made me sit up and take notice.

I saw the trailer for it on Youtube, okay, nice trailer, but I’m not playing a movie, I’m playing a game. Much like cover art, a movie trailer can show you awesomesauce , but reflect nothing of the final gameplay experience. Show me the gameplay.

SHOW ME the gameplay!

Then I found this;

Okay. Huh.

I haven’t said this in years. Actually, I think I haven’t said this in a decade. Maybe I said it for Starcraft II.

I HAVE TO BUY THAT GAME.

Curt Schilling, who I am actually aware of and also respect, is the design studio head behind this? Oh shit, is THIS the game his studio is coming out with?

And wait a minute, WHO is behind the lore? R.A. Salvatore?

Hmmm… I dunno, that could be a plus or a minus. He is the man responsible for giving us Drizzt, after all… and giving everyone that wanted to play an angst-ridden vampire in D&D and wasn’t allowed to the Dark Elf race for a replacement.

What he did by introducing scimitars alone into a medieval setting!

But on the other hand, I did love his writing. At a time when books based in D&D were mostly crap, his brought actual character and personality and placed them above stats, an incredible concept at the time.

As far as Todd McFarlane being behind the art design…

I know this is out of style these days, the cool kids mock Todd McFarlane, but I was a fan of the Spawn art style back in the first 50 issues. The characters I loved were the Medieval Spawn and Angela characters that Neil Gaiman created for Todd McFarlane for the Spawn comics, but the art was all Todd.

Something to remember. Neil Gaiman was responsible for my favorite character designs in Spawn, but the art style was all Todd’s, and as long as he is doing the art style of this game without the lore, that excites me.

Not interests, not intrigues, excites.

I really like what I see in that video.

A game world originally designed to be as huge as an MMO, made into a single player game? Character classes that are organic, growing and changing direction as you place points in different ways in skills that sound cool to you as you level?

Oh, hell yes. Sign my ass RIGHT up.

Everything I love about WoW, but without people.

On second thought, maybe it’s not THAT solid a must have after all.

The Cub Report – Stranglethorn Edition

Another step in the saga that is the continuing tales of Alex, 8 year old WoW adventurer and novice Worgen Feral Druid.

The saga has taken a turn, and I don’t know what to think of it.

There are bonfires, cooking fires and campfires all over the place in lower level zones. Quest givers stand around campfires, Innkeepers stand near burning braziers, there are little flames at building entrances here, there and everywhere.

When you stand in these fires, you get rewarded with a gentle ‘poof’ of smoke from your butt.

There is no other way to say it… my son loves to stand in the fire.

‘poof!’

You ever wonder where those people come from? The ones that just stand in the fire? Now you know. They like to see the gentle poof of smoke coming from their butts.

Alex loves Druid Cat form, running at high speed through the jungle, using Dash for a burst of speed immediately followed by Darkflight to keep that rush of movement going for as long as possible. When he gets the Stampeding Roar talent, he’s going to be buzzing like a ferret on Red Bull. I can see it coming, oh yes I can.

One thing I have learned in playing with Alex and going at his speed is that no matter how excited you are about the next quest, there is always time to stop and notice the small critters and insects that populate a zone… and kill them. Snakes, rabbits, small deer, cows, sheep, roaches, you name it, he kills it. And proudly announces it as a running commentary.

“There’s a snake! I pounced on it, I got it! Oooh, there’s a roach! Got ’em!”

…. okay. I know mommy doesn’t like you to kill critters, but you can kill all the roaches. I grew up in South Florida, I approve. Kill all the roaches. In fact, Blizzard, show me some good old South Florida house lizards, we can kill all those little bastards, too. I’ll make a Mage just to perpetrate a house lizard holocaust.

His favorite critters in the game at the moment are the rats. Or, as the logic train he pointed out to me goes, “cats eat rats, and I’m a cat, so I’m pouncing on my lunch!”

And that brings me to his true, most special love.

Feral Charge.

He started out getting addicted to Skull Bash, which you get at level 22. We’d be hunting Worgen in Darkshire, and he would have me wait while he lined up carefully on the target, inching forward slowly to get within the 13 yard range of Skull Bash so he could fly through the air, pouncing on his prey.

Skull Bash obviously isn’t supposed to be a charge, it’s supposed to be a spell interrupt with a short range leap, it just brings you to your target, that’s all. Alex doesn’t know what mana cost increases and stuff really are, or spell interrupts, or PvP functionality. What he does know is he had a pounce that let him slam into his enemies from a distance. Gotcha!

The 13 yard range ended up causing a little frustration. He didn’t know how to tell if he was in range of the bad guys to use the spell or not.

I didn’t understand the problem at first. On my UI, when I target an opponent, each button indicates if I’m in range for that spell or not by lighting up. I tried to explain this to Alex, only to have him tell me his doesn’t do that.

As I tried wading through the Interface options looking for where his was turned off, Cassie asked me what I was talking about like I was crazy. She uses a mostly default UI, and hers doesn’t put any form of range indicator on her buttons either.

WTF?

It turns out that the XPerl UI Addon I’ve used for, what, five years now or more has it built in, and since I never, ever play the game without XPerl, I took the range indicator on individual buttons for granted. Hell, I thought it was standard for the game, how else do you know not to waste time activating an ability that has a varying range? It’s one thing on flat terrain, but some of the new sloping terrain designs are deceptive, and make accurately estimating distances difficult.

So, I got Alex set up with XPerl. I would have preferred just installing an addon that would put range modifiers on the ability buttons rather than completely revamping his whole UI, but I didn’t know of one. Honestly, this subject never came up for me before. I don’t know how Cassie and other players manage without a constant visual indicator of target range. I guess you’re just that good?

I got XPerl installed on his system, and now Alex knows how to stalk up to his prey in stealth, get just within extreme range and then unleash the leaping kitty Skull Bash thunder! Pow!

He had to use stealth for Skull Bash, because the second cause of frustation was that Skull Bash’s short range meant he could sometimes face pull before using his spell.

Ah, but I had the answer for that. And it came at level 29, when Alex was finally able to spec into Feral Charge.

Feral Charge. Sing me a song of Feral Charge, for Alex is in love with you.

With Feral Charge, Alex has a leaping kitty roaring pounce that puts him behind the target and is useable from stealth, plus he doesn’t have to be as careful with range. It’s got a much longer range than he’s used to, 25 yards, so he can be less focused on range.

Alex now Feral Charges all the things. ALL the things. Mobs, critters, pirates, you name it, he tries to feral charge it.

Last night, I caught him trying to line up on me from extreme range at the rear.

“Alex, you can’t feral charge me. I’m on your side.”

“Awww. You should be able to feral charge people on your own team too!”

“…. yes son, yes you should. Sometimes, I pray for the ability to attack members of our team, Feral Charge them and gank them and gank them and gank them….”

“What?”

“Nothing, nothing. That Crocolisk looks pretty cool. You wanna kill ’em?”

“Yes!” *manuevers in stealth to feral charge the crocolisk*

At level 31, he was able to put a point in Stampede. This to me wasn’t that big a deal. To Alex, this was a VERY BIG DEAL.

I explained to him about the haste buff and the Ravage without positioning/stealth modifier, but it didn’t register until the first time he did a Feral Kitty Charge, and the Ravage button lit up.

“When I leap on them, the Ravage button lights up, and I’m not even in stealth!” Ah, the light in his eyes, the delighted glee at free mayhem. Having one of his stealth-only abilities, which must mean it’s special, available after a charge is like icing on an already delicious cake.

Then I paid closer attention to what he was saying.

He wasn’t saying “leap”.

He wasn’t saying “Feral Charge”.

No, when he was using Feral Charge to attack the enemies, ALL the enemies, what he was doing was singing a little song he made up on the spot, and sang over and over as only an 8 year old can;

“Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, they don’t call it head buttin’ for nothin’. Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, my head to his butt, POUNCE!”

At that point, I just grabbed a notebook and put it next to my keyboard. Gotta be ready to write this shit down.

Good thing I did. Not two minutes later, as we raced through the Stranglethorn Tigers (that we vastly outlevel) to grab our last two, Alex calls out, “I’ll get the one behind you so he doesn’t attack your tushie!”

Ah yes. Even on a Dwarf Shaman, my butt makes for a tasty target.

Butt protection, isn’t that what everyone wants from their adventuring companions?

Who Will Be The Next Great Blogger?

Who will be the next great blogger?

I have no idea, and I ain’t running a competition. I think I just watch too many cooking competition shows.

What I would like is some link love.

But not YOUR link, or mine.

Lemme’ splain.

Do you know a really good writer, someone who is blogging but hasn’t had much exposure yet? They are your little secret, and you wish more people knew about them because they’re so awesome, but it can be hard to be noticed by WoW Insider or MMO Melting Pot?

Well, I’m not big time, but I’d like to know about them too!

So, what I’m asking you to do is to please leave a comment here recommending someone else’s awesome blog for me to read.

I’ll read them all, I assure you, and I will add those with feeds to my private feedreader.

Those that I really, personally like and are WoW related may even make the move from my private feedreader to my permanent WoW Blogroll on the site. Those that ain’t WoW related will stay hidden, while I lurk unseen, reading and enjoying. Muahahaha!

**For those who are not aware, I have a widget on my website that allows me to link a folder on my Google Reader feedlist to the blog, only showing those blogs I place in the special folder. So, the blogroll does not represent EVERY feed I follow, just the ones I think other readers may find as awesome and relevant to WoW as I do. If you do not see your blog on the blogroll, it doesn’t actually mean I don’t read your blog. 🙂

In other news, I almost won a Piggie Award! Thank you very much to Hugh and the MMO Melting Pot for the kind words, and for thinking my writing is even worth considering. It’s much appreciated, it really is. Great congratulations have to go to Melmoth of Killed in a Smiling Accident for the win. If you’re going to lose to someone, it’s nice that it be to such a wonderful writer.

Mogging Screenies!

I was reading a post by the WoW Noob today, and I liked her screenshots of what choices she’d made so much that I wanted to post my own current stylish fashinista statements too.

Whereas she’s going with truly custom, non-set looks, I kinda went the other way. Yes, it was less imaginative, but I like the looks I’m sporting. 🙂

First, my Druid. I love the look of my Druid, I really do.

I love the Sporeggar tabard, hair and gear color blending. Plus, shrooms! Considering I like to try to make everyone’s life a little more surreal, I think a mushroom makes for a great icon.

Next, my Hunter.

Yes, I am proud of having almost gotten 100% of the Firelands tier. I’m just missing the shoulders, and the ones I’m sporting actually blend in pretty well. And I am enjoying an embarrassment of riches, having both the staff AND the bow from Dragon Soul LFR. I’m not sorry.

After that must come the infamous Arms Warrior, sporting the very latest in OMG WTF is THAT?

I did subtle on my Druid, I did raiding on my Hunter, but for my Warrior I went for making a bold, offensive eye-searing statement.

And that statement is, “This dude is color blind.”

Finally, my Paladin.

My Paladin is still leveling, but withe very upgrade I’ve had since early 70s I dutifully go and mog it. I may not be able to sport the full Field Marshall PVP set, but this still achieves the look and feel I was hoping for. Plus, this character actually looks the way I feel. Old and cranky. 🙂

If you have screenshots of your own looks, by all means, shoot me a link in the comments to whatever site hosts them, or blog post you made with them. I’d love to see what you actually wear around Azeroth!

If you’re doing SW:TOR instead of WoW these days, you’re not left out… if you’ve got a screenshot of your favorite character looking badass, link that too!